Real Estate Networking: Would You Do Business With You?

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At a recent real estate club meeting we had a typical mix of regular members, both seasoned and novice investors, as well as a few newcomers. It is only natural that you size up these visitors almost instantly. We all know that first impressions are so important and if your initial reaction is negative it can be difficult to change that.

In a perfect world your opinion of someone would be based on how knowledgeable they are, their level of experience, and their reputation. While all of that factors in, it is generally appearance that makes the most immediate initial impact. If you insist you aren’t like that you may have a future as a politician. I started by mentioning the REI club meeting because of three first-time visitors that were a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Mr. Slick

Exhibit number one was an individual in his late-twenties, dressed in a fancy suit, impeccably groomed, and wearing cologne. My initial impression was of someone who was adhering to the “fake it till you make it” philosophy. Watching others interact with him it seemed as if they were wary and wanted to know what he was selling or what his game was. As it turned out he was an insurance salesman who really was there to learn about real estate but his appearance gave people a different impression.

Pig Pen

Another attendee was the exact opposite of Mr. Slick. He was poorly dressed, unkempt, and people generally avoided him. My assumption, and probably other’s as well, was that this was some wanna-be who thought he could get rich quick in real estate. As it turned out that was wrong. He was actually working for a company looking for investors. Perhaps he was peddling a great deal but I can’t imagine anyone gave him the time of day.

Average Joe

There was one man dressed in khakis and a nice shirt, nothing fancy. He seemed like an average guy and was soft-spoken, but seemed to exude an air of confidence. By the end of the night just about everyone had spoken to him. Turned out he was a very experienced investor and was looking to network with others like him. Without a doubt he made the most lasting impression on people. He wasn’t slick, didn’t wear a fancy suit, or boast about how successful he was.

What Impression Do You Give?

These were real examples and probably similar to what you find at almost any business networking meeting. Think about the impression you give. How would someone perceive you? We all know the proverb that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Will the people you are trying to attract see you in a favorable light? For the record – I’m meeting Mr. Average Joe for coffee next week.

First appearance deceives many. – Ovid    

Photo Credit: Richard Warren

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2 Comments

  1. Hey Richard — The whole first impression thing has long been a very effective tool for me. Ironically, I’ve used it more as a tactic in my overall strategy to remain under the radar. Your central thesis is a bullseye, as folks so often fail to open the book before deciding where to store it in their ‘library’ of who’s who.

    An example is a meeting coming up next month in my local Board of Realtors. I’ve been purposefully invisible for seven years here, as my business forced me outa town. Now in the process of returning, I’d like to get the lay of the land while maintaining anonymity. I’ll accomplish this as you’ve described so well here — by dressing in a nondescript manner, being very low key, and not goin’ outa my way to display exactly what I do.

    Just as you spotted the real deal in the club meeting, I’m that guy lookin’ for a guy like you. 🙂 Works almost every time, AND I get to remain stealthily under the radar. To the extent possible, I eschew personal notoriety.

    On the other hand, when I initially meet clients, I dress appropriately. There’s no doubt in their minds I’m a professional. Same with the office.

  2. i can remember when I was straight out of college when the book “dress for success” had just come out. (dating myself here) I had an opportunity so buy a highly desirable piece of land with our building company at the time. I made an appointment to go to the sellers house and meet with them. I knew that we were in competition with another builder so i decided to go to the meeting with my Dad dressed in our best suits and all slicked up.

    When we got to the appointment we met the seller and his son. They were both in jeans and flannel shirts. I immediately felt way over dressed and like I was trying to be something that I was not. The competition got the land. So much for dress for success!!! I guess it is all in the eye of the beholder.

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